By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
My friend Suzie is getting married in early July. The reception will be after 5 p.m. in her dad’s backyard. And, that means we’ll be fighting mosquitoes at some point. When we were planning, one friend suggested bug fogging the area. Another suggested making bug spray available.
I kinda freaked. Usually, I’m quite calm. But, fogging will kill bugs, both good and bad, including the magical performance of fireflies. And, bug spray will pollute my skin with neurotoxins that my body will absorb.
I wanted to hand each of them a copy of Silent Spring, by scientist and nature writer Rachel Carson. Published in 1962, the book identifies the dangers of misusing chemical pesticides such as DDT, and questions the idea of “better living through chemistry.” Carson’s work inspired President John F. Kennedy and initiated the modern environmental movement.
Fired up by my environmental foremothers, I mounted my soapbox, made a derisive noise and vented: “I don’t want that stuff near my body.”
Sometimes I can be so judgmental. So, I shut up and pictured myself in a white Hazmat suit if they fogged the yard.
In what was synchronicity, the very next day a friend turned me on to Naturally Bug-Free, 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths and Other Pesky Insects, by Stephanie L. Tourles (Storey Publishing, 2016, $10.95).
The cute, small format book is thorough. The first half details ingredients and equipment. The second half offers recipes for insect repellents for people, products for pets and treatments for the home.
I must warn you that you’ll spend a bit of time and money collecting essential oils, but you’ll likely smell better than using synthetic pesticides. I will likely try a few of the 17 (if I counted right) recipes for liquid and spray formulations. And, a few of the balms as well. Among the most interesting, to me, are those dominated by lemon or lavender scents. I think I’ll skip the one calling for essential oil of catnip. (I am the involuntary cat lady, after all.)
As tempting as it may seem, I’m also going to pass on Tourles (tongue-in-cheek?) suggestion of gorging on garlic to exude the repelling smell. I’m afraid it will ward off humans as well as bugs.
When I find the best spray, I may bottle for use at the wedding. In fact. I may make several bottles to hand out to the bride and her entourage. And, if I need ideas for packaging, I can always turn to Pinterest.
Oh, and for household pests, keep in mind some tinctures take time. For example, “Herbal Repellent Base #1, Tincture of Yarrow, Catnip and Pennyroyal” requires four weeks for the vodka and oils to extract chemical components from the herbs.
For more information about keeping pests off pets and out of the pantry, grab a copy of the book.
What’s your formula for pest control?